2020 December: Ten poorest states in the US


In the United States the HHS Poverty Guidelines for 2020 provides us with statistics regarding poverty thresholds for various household sizes. For a household with four members the average poverty threshold is set at US$ 26.200.

This post is intended for prospective or current exchange students. Some of the information may be of interest to the general public.

10 poorest states

According to the the U.S. Census, the ten poorest States in 2019 are: Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

According to Federal Regulations §62.5 Secondary school students a prospective host family must provide income statement «for the purposes of determining that the basic needs of the exchange student can be met, including three quality meals and transportation to and from school activities.” If the income statement provided to the exchange organization indicates an income that is below the guideline threshold, the exchange organization is obliged to deny host-family status to the applicant.

Sometimes exchange organizations accept host-families with poor incomes. As a result, exchange student may be required to pay for their own food, travel to and from school activities, be pressed to lend money to the host-family, live in dangerous neighborhoods and go schools that cannot provide them with the requirements set by their home countries.

Although being sent to one of the 10 poorest states does equate to ending up in a poor family, caution is advised.


  1. HHS Poverty Guidelines for 2020: https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines
  2. Title 22: Foreign Relations: PART 62—EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM: Subpart B—Specific Program Provisions: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=2ab50ca65d6f8ff27721797f65eeb042&mc=true&node=se22.1.62_125&rgn=div8
  3. RANKED: The strength of the public education system in every US state, from worst to best: https://www.insider.com/us-states-public-education-system-ranked-us-news-world-report-2019-4

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